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County guts BCAA of its programs
by Jason Collins
Apr 19, 2014 | 136 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Anna Simo, BCAA director
Anna Simo, BCAA director
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BEEVILLE – County leaders effectively gutted the Bee Community Action Agency when the few remaining departments fell on the chopping block.

Among those departments were the child and adult care food program and rural transit district program.

This doesn’t mean these programs will go away. They will likely be picked up by another agency now that the county has opted to discontinue service of the programs—effective June 4.

County Judge David Silva voiced the same concern as others on the court that enough time was given to ensure a smooth transition for all programs including that of rural transportation.

“If we can give you a date that we are going cease being the fiscal agent, will that allow you to seek to move this rural transit district to another one?” he asked.

BCAA director Anna Simo said she would contact neighboring agencies about the impending change.

With this looming closing date, there will be more to do that just shutting the doors of BCAA.

Programs like transportation have contracts and agreements that span outside Bee County.

Simo said, “For example, the rural transit district includes and encompasses various transportation contracts. We have sub-agreements with Live Oak and Refugio... and work force transportation agreements.”

Bee County and BCAA are grandfathered as the rural transit provider.

However, with BCAA and Bee County no longer the rural transit district, these counties will need to join another transportation district.

Bee County also likely will fall under another transit district of its choosing.

Commissioner Dennis DeWitt said, “One thing we want to be sure of is we don’t lose our services to the folks outside the city limits.

“They will still be provided the same type of services from a different provider.”

Simo, however, would not make that guarantee.

“The services are similar in nature because they provide demand response.

“What their processes are, I don’t know.”

Interestingly, it wasn’t that long ago that the court approved purchasing an additional vehicle for the transportation department. Money would come from a grant and the sale of another vehicle the department purchased through a similar grant.

DeWitt, during that discussion March 24, said, “We have at least 39 vehicles sitting. We have 12 drivers, three full-time and nine part-time, and we are ordering another vehicle?”

Simo said, “Some of those vehicles you may have seen are service vehicles which aren’t used to transport people.

“Another number of those are scheduled for disposition.”

Discussion was halted though when Commissioner Eloy Rodriguez made the motion to approve this purchase.

DeWitt was the sole dissenting vote. It is worth noting that these vehicles are not owned exclusively by the county but tied to the grant and the state.

During a March 10 meeting, Simo told the court that they had already received 13 new vehicles through grants and were expecting to receive two more. There was a delay in receiving the last two which caused her to seek an extension on that contract which the court unanimously approved after hearing that the vehicles were coming at no cost to the county.

County leaders agreed to have Simo stay on with BCAA so that she could help with the transition.

The court agreed to set the final date of transition at June 30.

Commissioner Carlos Salazar said during a prior meeting that Simo would likely no longer be head of BCAA when her contract expired later this year.

All of this is coming about because the court previously announced that it would transition Head Start to another agency. The county ends oversight of Head Start on June. 4.

“Since the loss of Head Start significantly impacts the administration that supports the remainder of the programs, that is the reason you see the remainder of the programs on the agenda,” Simo said.

It is unknown now who will take over the Head Start program permanently. There is also the question looming if the county will be reimbursed the $371,000 it is now expected to lose because of lack of volunteer support for Head Start last year.

In total, the county was looking at an expense of about $1.6 million, had it opted to keep BCAA and its various programs running.

Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.
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